Last week we spoke about the importance of compliance support offered to groups by agents and how this can vary from full support, including helping to pay for items such as FMLA, COBRA and legal document generation, to providing nothing at all.
Today we switch gears to discuss the varying levels of reporting and plan strategy available to the market today. I open with a question: When your agent hands you your renewal and says, “This is a fair increase proposed by the carrier,” what supporting evidence does he or she bring to the table to give you some assurance?
Typically renewals are provided by carriers 90 – 120 days in advance of a group’s renewal date, which doesn’t leave them much time to digest the impact of what changes may be coming down the line. For many groups, this is the first peek at how they will need to budget for the upcoming year or take the necessary actions to reduce an anticipated increase, which can involve plan changes, carrier changes and or discontinuation of benefits.
More than ever, carriers are now being pressed to provide greater data to groups and their advisors. Is your agent making the most of this information to put you in a position to understand, with as much notice as possible, what to expect for the upcoming plan year? What if I told you that agents, if properly equipped with the right personnel, should be able to accurately predict your renewal approximately 6 months in advance of your renewal date? Would this be helpful for budgeting purposes? Would this give you more time to develop a communication strategy to educate employees on potential healthcare changes?
Beyond renewal prediction, throughout the year you should have the necessary reporting provided to you to always have a pulse on your plan’s performance and proactive recommendations to help prevent any foreseeable red flags.